Bands of Honey
Ann Kathryn Kelly
We plod in silence through slices of the Sahara the color of honey: wavy and warm, like the honey we spread on the morning’s sliced bread that we ate with fresh pomegranate and glass tumblers of tea. Sandscape compositions, seared into our camera’s memory cards, into memory’s gray folds. I watch you pick pomegranate seeds from your teeth with a toothpick, wrist swiveling, fingers grasping, and the toothpick snaps, and you stow two splintered pieces in your backpack because your mother taught you not to litter. Our guide waits with our camels, yours with a saddle blanket red like pomegranate, black geometric patterns slicing through weave, and you throw a leg over the kneeling animal and grasp the saddle horn to guide your ascent as our guide clicks, tongue against teeth, and the camel’s hind legs rise. You lean back like we’d been taught to do, and our guide clicks again, and the camel unfolds its front knees and stands, and you shift your weight forward, a counterbalance preventing a tumble, and he hands you rope to steer, his bright blue cotton robe tumbling in folds to his knees. He wears a scarf the color of tangerine that he winds around his head in thick, rolled bands. Later, we stop at an oasis with eight tents in a valley, red and orange and turquoise rugs for walls, stretched canvas for roofs. Sand stretching for miles, bands of honey.
Ann Kathryn Kelly writes from New Hampshire’s Seacoast region. She’s an editor with Barren Magazine, a columnist with WOW! Women on Writing, and she works in the technology sector. Ann leads writing workshops for a nonprofit that offers therapeutic arts programming to people living with brain injury. Her essays have appeared in a number of literary journals.